.

Town's Cupid: Cushman Plays Valentine All Year Long

The Town Clerk's Office is more than just the trappings of government; it's where lifetimes are made.

For most residents, thelocated on the first floor of is an utilitarian outpost; it is where you come to conduct the everyday official business of government.

But for , there is one aspect of her position that gives her the most satisfaction: being Belmont's official Cupid.

For about 20 times a year, Cushman marries couples. The long-time friends, the recent citizens, those who want to elope, the Coast Guard mates who decided to get married in one of the partner's hometown.

"It's the most joyful part of what I do," said Cushman, who has married couples at the front desk, upstairs in front of the fireplace in the Selectmen's Room and up in the Town Hall turret that overlooks the town. 

Cushman is both the justice of the peace and a notary through her commission as town clerk, which comes in handy in other areas of her job including swearing in town officials.

But it's the opportunity to join couples in marriage that rates as the "best part of the job," said Cushman, who gets between $50 to $100 per wedding. 

Most couples file for their marriage license in Belmont and wait the three days before they can pick up their license and have the ceremony.

There have been those who are eloping who will rush over to municipal court and have the three-day wait waived, and then backtrack that day to be married.

"The trend I see wedding wise is that a lot of folks like to have an intimate experience with just the two of them or with a friend or two. It's a secret and they don't tell anyone and then ask them to join them for dinner when they spring the surprise," said Cushman.

Cushman also has a form which asks how the couples how they met which have led to many interesting stories including the bride-to-be from Brazil who was jailed for entering the country illegally – she told immigration at Logan that she was visiting the US "to get married" which was not noted on her visa.

Marriage is criminal

"When I married the couple, I was wondering if she'd be wearing a orange jumpsuit," said Cushman. "The bridegroom said that he always wanted to marry a criminal." 

Many people are married outside in backyards, on the front porch, in the open fields around town and in front of the Town Hall including under a tree that blooms with hanging blossoms.

One couple from Lebanon got married last year in a raging snowstorm under the Town Hall's Terra Cotta arch facing Common Street.

"She was holding a fur muff and looked so beautiful," said Cushman.

Many new residents request to be married with the American flag in the room.

"And it is always something that moves me whenever I hear that because many people take that for granted," said Cushman, who has married couples from Uganda, Nepal and from India.

"It's something to learn and pronounce the Ugandan names," said Cushman. 

In one case, Cushman helped resolve an issue of cultural importance. A man with an heavy Arabic accent pushed his way into the Clerk's Office after closing time, desperate for Cushman to answer his question. Holding a marriage license from Boston, he said that he had picked up the paperwork three days earlier. 

"We are married?" he asked, gesturing to a woman who was wearing a hijab and modest clothes. When Cushman explained that they were not technically married, the woman told her that they had been living as a married couple since obtaining the paper saying they had applied for the license.

"I kept myself pure for 34 years. Is there anything you can do to help us?" the woman asked.

"Give me 15 minutes!" said Cushman. "We'll have a wedding here" and they were officially joined in marriage in the closed office.

"They were both so relieved and happy. Sometime it's that simple to make people happy," said Cushman.

Marsha Knoll February 10, 2012 at 05:50 AM
What a wonderful story! Thank you, Franklin, for the great interview.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »